The EU has offered a temporary suspension on tariffs for medical equipment
The temporarily suspend of tariffs and value-added tax on imported protective medical equipment is a response to the worsening Covid-19 crisis
The UK can now buy medical equipment tariff and vat free!
This includes masks and protective gear, as well as testing kits, ventilators and other medical equipment.
The move comes after several EU governments pushed the commission to authorise the suspension of both levies and tariffs at national level.
A letter sent to the EU commission stated: “As we are facing one of the most serious public health crisis in the history of the EU, we must use all available EU tools to alleviate the situation and help Member States,”
The letter stressed that several member-states are facing severe shortages of protective and relevant medical equipment, and the application of customs tariffs does not facilitate their availability. The same applies to cases where tariffs are very low, as they still pose barriers to a more efficient response to the virus’ outbreak.
What are the Tariffs on medical equipment?
The measure includes masks and protective gear, as well as testing kits, ventilators and other medical equipment.
EU import duties on medical devices used to combat the coronavirus pandemic range from zero percent on ventilators to 12 percent on certain personal protective garments. This is significantly lower than the bloc’s average VAT rate of 21 percent.
The bloc imposes, for example, a tariff of 2.9 percent on protective glasses and of 6.5 percent on gloves imported from countries with which it has no trade deal.
In addition, EU production of such equipment is concentrated in four countries ― the Czech Republic, France, Germany and Poland ― which leaves other countries vulnerable to shortages.
The relief plans come after the EU attracted strong criticism from trade experts for introducing an “export authorization mechanism” for protective medical equipment to prevent its outflow from the bloc.
Trade experts have described the measure as harmful, recommending that the EU and governments outside of the bloc should instead temporarily lift import tariffs on medical equipment — an approach recently taken by Brazil — to boost production and trade flows.
Brazil said it would cut to zero the import tariffs on medical products used in the fight against the virus, as well as temporarily exempt local medical production from a federal tax on these products.
The EU’s planned VAT suspension is aimed at making the relief mechanism more effective.
Von der Leyen response was to lift tariffs all be it for a short period “The Commission stands ready to examine within the briefest delay the requests aimed at making the importation of items for disaster victims free of customs duties and VAT,” according to a letter sent last week from the commission’s tax department to EU and UK customs authorities.
Von der Leyen says, ‘This is our contribution to easing the pressure on prices for medical and protective equipment.’
The Commission stressed that the measure is temporary.
The European Commission will temporarily waive the tariffs on medical equipment in an effort to facilitate imports of needed materials and help EU countries struggling to get supplies of products such as masks, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced in a video message.
“This is our contribution to easing the pressure on prices for medical and protective equipment, and to making them more affordable,” von der Leyen said.
When EU countries decide to temporarily waive customs duties on the import of medical devices and protective equipment from third countries, the Commission will “swiftly approve requests,” she said.
The Commission stressed that the measure is temporary. “It will apply for a period of six months, with a possibility for further extension,” according to a statement.